It's certainly seemed in the past year, both from public discourse and from election results around the world, that individuals have moved away from the middle, and that those away from the middle have become more vocal (perhaps more on the right, but also to some extent on the left). While the Libertarian got very few votes yesterday, one of the stories behind yesterday's election is increasing polarization on the town level. The towns that moved most from Obama to Brown would, in case of a simple regression to the mean, be expected to be those in which Obama had done the best, but instead they are those in which McCain did better.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 :::
Of course, that the Presidential election went strongly (in Massachusetts) for Obama is worth noting, and the results here can be explained largely in terms of turnout as well; if McCain supporters were likely to come out for a special election (and vote for Brown), and Obama voters weren't, you'd expect towns with somewhat less than 50% support for McCain to swing the most toward Brown (in terms of differences in percentages), with smaller swings toward Brown in towns that leaned more strongly one way or the other. Since there aren't a lot of towns in Massachusetts that leaned strongly toward McCain in the first place, that also results in the most Obama towns staying blue, with the least Obama towns going red; in this model, though, the most Obama towns also have the lowest turnout in the Senate election, so that the same town-by-town percentages would benefit Brown more from this turnout model than you'd expect from the model where people are changing to vote more like their neighbors.
::: posted by dWj at 11:53 AM